Ex Wessex Thunder
Paratroopers have been training alongside the Royal Army of Oman to hone the infantry skills of both armies’ soldiers.
Ex WESSEX THUNDER saw 2 PARA working with 80 soldiers from the Omani Western Frontier Regiment on Salisbury Plain. The two-week long exercise concluded with a co-ordinated attack on the urban warfare training facility at Copehill Down. 2 PARA launched the initial assault, with the Omani troops and their vehicles and equipment arriving by Chinook to reinforce the paratroopers and complete the capture of the village.
The attack was watched by Brig Hamad Al Nabhani, CO of the Omani 11th (Infantry) Brigade. He said: “There is a strong relationship between Oman and the British armed forces, with joint training every year. This exercise is about Omani soldiers gaining from the experience that 2 PARA has developed on recent operations and learning these lessons for ourselves. It is great to work together, using the excellent facilities and learning from British operational experience. Through good preparation and their previous experience, the Omani soldier has demonstrated their adaptability and willingness to work alongside friendly forces.”
Lt Col Adam Dawson MC, CO 2 PARA, said: “This exercise has been very well-resourced to focus on the basic building blocks of infantry work. It has helped to identify skills that need further refinement for both the Omanis and 2 PARA. The Omanis have excellent soldiers and officers who have demonstrated high levels of energy, and a willingness to learn and work alongside my troops.”
Pte James Reilly is no stranger to working with foreign troops, having served alongside ANA troops in Afghanistan last year. “This exercise has been hard but we’ve done good work to develop skills such as fighting in urban areas. It’s been interesting to see how the Omanis approach the same job in a different way and they’re enthusiastic to learn from us.”
It wasn’t only the Omanis who were benefiting from the Exercise; the Chinooks used to fly in the assaulting troops were flown by students from the Chinook Operational Conversion Flight (OCF) of Odiham based 18 Sqn. The exercise provided valuable training to the OCF students as it formed part of the operational phase of their training course.
Flt Lt Dan Easter, a student pilot, said “It has been a great experience getting to work so closely with foreign troops and our own Paras. The nature of the exercise allowed our crews to move large numbers of troops, and vehicles into a full scale assault and then gain extra experience through simulated casualty evacuations. This is something we rarely get the opportunity to do.”
Sgt Claire Burrows, a student crewman, said “This was a fantastic opportunity for us to work closely with the Army and carry passengers that spoke very little English! This made for a challenge when trying to get forty passengers briefed.”